Can IOT Help Build A Sustainable, Scalable & Safer Tomorrow?

Praveen Arora heads operations and new technological developments and partnerships for the IoT business in India, serving enterprise and public customers as well as start-ups. Praveen has over 22 years of experience, supporting businesses and the C-suite on strategy and execution of large, high impact business transformation projects that cover Innovation, Industry X.0, IoT and Digital Thread & Twin across multiple industries.

Over the past decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution has cut across many industries, paving the way for innovation at multiple levels, and is gaining a stable foothold in a digital-first environment. Almost every organisation, regardless of size, is increasingly employing IoT technologies for a sustainable future to drive business agility. Organisations with a people first and a planet first mindset, focus on employee safety and environment consciousness. A key to their success is a three pronged approach of being Sustainable, Scalable and Safer.

Embracing Sustainability is key

While there is no single path to create a fully sustainable business, each organisation is on a unique journey, and at a different stage of maturity. For many, sustainability is a top priority and every tech advancement is a journey towards a better tomorrow. But are these companies making a difference and where do they stack up against their peers in terms of IoT deployment? Research notes that, 84% of current IoT deployments are “addressing or have the potential to address” the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Let us look at how some IoT solutions contribute to sustainability.

Smart street lights for smart cities

Innovation, infrastructure and industrialisation are aligned to the ideas of sustainable growth. The Smart Cities Mission was one such initiative aimed to develop citizen friendly and sustainable smart cities by 2025. One of the pre-requisites of smart cities is smart street lighting systems and to address this, several cities have deployed smart streetlights. Smart streetlights have a tremendous potential of saving costs and energy, reducing carbon emissions, and light-up India’s way to sustainability. Today, Tata Communications manages around 250k of smart streetlights across the country. We have seen success in additional energy savings of up to 20 percent and reduction of fault monitoring cost by 80 percent, enabling smart cities to meet their carbon footprint targets. It further ensures the right illumination on the streets for safe commuting. By adopting such solutions, cities can transform into an intelligent and energy-efficient township and set a benchmark for other cities to follow.

Smart meters for smart utilities

Smart meters have gained popularity across the globe in recent years with growing customer interest to reduce their carbon footprint. Smart metering systems for water, gas, and electricity have the potential to deliver noteworthy results in terms of minimising environmental impact, waste management and energy conservation. Energy companies are also using smart meters to reduce their operational costs considerably and the accuracy of billing is improved. For end users it offers a fair and transparent visibility of their daily usage.

Smart manufacturing for smart industries

A recent survey found that 7 in 10 executives believe IoT technology has helped them increase revenue, 45% agree that it has helped increased profits by 1% to 5% and 41% reported profit increase by 5% to 15% annually. Enterprises are also moving beyond technology integration into niche functions such as supply chain management or production line automation. They are conscious of deploying IoT across the value chain to improve efficiencies, and they seek a holistic solution rather than a point solution to the device, network, or application. As a result, it is critical for IoT to evolve and provide a complete suite of solutions as a platform that is more scalable yet sustainable.

Given the surge in demand in the market created by the pandemic, an IoT fabric proposition is what the market needs. A single platform to manage connectivity and data from any IoT device which enables users to manage the lifecycle of their entire IoT use-case. It enables enterprises to add any type of IoT device and sensors in a plug and play manner thus reducing overall efforts for digitalisation and enabling the enterprises focus on core business.

For example, a plant head wants to digitalise and optimise power consumption on a particular line or monitor process parameters of machines or ensure safety of employees or track the raw material of finished goods inflow and outflow or check productivity of the overall plant, appropriate suite of sensors combined with this platform an IoT fabric can help track and visualise data through a centralised command centre. Specific rules can also be defined, trends analysed, and alerts triggered, resulting in increased efficiencies. It helps in creating IoT journeys by building an IoT fabric that runs across and enables self-creation of customised use cases.

Truly, the benefits of new tech like IoT are many, it allows the ability to get real-time data, be it energy or resource usage, which acts as a powerful tool to help optimise and minimise the amount of energy consumed. Take for instance, collecting data from CCTV cameras, fault detection in drones or AR-VR based immersive technologies, a lot of integration will be required. All of these, need to be synchronised together so the customer gets the best value.

The Smart Cities Mission was one such initiative aimed to develop citizen friendly and sustainable smart cities by 2025

Smart connected worker

During COVID-19, social distancing of employees, ensuring worker safety and contact tracing was a top priority. IoT solutions that help monitor body temperature, track and trace employee movements was critical and need of the hour. Organisations that deployed such connected worker solutions were able to stay ahead of the curve, ensure employee safety and at the same time enhance employee productivity.

Nearly 2 million people die each year from workrelated causes, according to the estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO). It is also shocking to know that almost the entire global population (99%) breathes air that exceeds WHO air quality limits, and threatens their health. Hence with ‘safety first’ as a priority, organisations need to undertake all possible measures to ensure the health and safety of its employees, leaving no stone unturned. Even in an industrial set up, IoT solutions can collect real-time air quality data to identify and address harmful pollutants present in the air.

These sensors monitor the constituents that cause pollution and temperature-humidity and trigger an alarm when the air quality falls below a certain level. The data collected can be analysed further with the implementation of real-time air quality monitoring system installed. Such solutions help businesses monitor facility-wide emissions and take preventive measures to reduce their environmental footprint and ensure workers’ safety at the same time.